African Cherry Provides Novel Cure for Drug-resistant Infections, Malaria

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New studies have shown that extracts of the leaves and stem bark of African cherry could be used effectively to treat drug-resistant infections; and may hold the key to new and effective alternative antimalarial medicine.

A new study has established the possibility of developing antimicrobial agents of natural origin to manage possible infection from vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (VRSA) that are now developing multi-resistance against many antibiotics.

The researchers concluded: “The bactericidal activities exhibited by C. albidium extract against VRSA used in this study revealed a significant therapeutic potential of this plant and supported its usefulness in folklore remedies for the management of infections caused by pathogens. The ability of the plant extract fractions obtained from C. albidium to kill VRSA in this study at low concentration and minimal contact time has established the potential of the plant as a template for future drugs that could be formulated to combat infections caused by VRSA; such drug would be useful in combating the menace of VRSAs in human and animal health.”

The study titled “Biocidal effects of stem bark extract of Chrysophyllum albidium G. Don on vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus” was published recently in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Also, another study published in Asian Journal of Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences has validated the folklore use of extracts of African cherry in treatment of malaria.

The Nigerian researchers evaluated the use Chrysophyllum albidium in traditional treatment of malaria for efficacy against the Plasmodium berghei infected mice. “The usefulness of this medicinal plant may hold the key to new and effective alternative antimalarial medicine.”

The study is titled “In Vivo Antiplasmodial Evaluation Of Methanol Leaf Extract and Fractions of Chrysophyllum albidum G. Don (Sapotaceae).”

Until now, there is a high level of treatment failure to conventional antimalarial drugs. Despite significant progress in the treatment of malaria, this disease has staged a huge comeback in large areas of the world, due to the development of drug resistant parasites.

Several studies have shown that the progressive spread of the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparium, resistance to antimalarial drugs poses a serious threat to disease control programme. In addition, there is lack of scientific information on effect of C. albidum as anti-malarial drug.

According to the researchers, there is therefore urgent need for alternative approach. Thus, Chrysophyllum albidium used in traditional treatment of malaria was evaluated for efficacy against the Plasmodium berghei infected mice. They said the usefulness of this medicinal plant may hold the key to new and effective alternative antimalarial medicine.

Botanically called Chrysophyllum albidum, African star apple, which belongs to the plant family Sapotaceae is an edible tropical fruit known by various tribal names. It is called Utieagadava in Urhobo; Agbalumo in Yoruba; Udala in Ibo, Efik and Ibibio; Ehya in Igala, Agwaluma in Hausa tribes of Nigeria. In southern Benin, it is called Azongogwe or Azonbobwe in local language.

Phytochemical analysis indicates that Chrysophyllum albidium is rich in natural antioxidants, which promote health. This plant is highly rich in flavonoids, steroids, glycosides and saponins and thus serves as a source of anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, as well as possesses diuretic properties. Extracts from seeds and roots of C. albidium effectively arrested bleeding from fresh wounds and also promote wound healing.

Until now, Chrysophyllum albidium leaves are used as emollients and for the treatment of skin eruptions, diarrhoea and stomach ache. The stem bark of this plant is used in preparation of decoction for the treatment of fever and black-coated tongues caused by increase population of bacteria and yeast in the mouth.

Leaves extract from C. albidium exhibited antibacterial activities against S. aureus, Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhi and Shigella species. Seeds and root extracts obtained from C. albidium exhibited anti-inflammatory, anti-diarrhoeal and anti-haemorrhoidal. Onyeka demonstrated hypoglycaemic, antioxidant and hepatoprotective activities of root bark extract of C. albidium in alloxan-induced diabetic rats.

Indeed, Chrysophyllum albidum has many ethnomedicinal uses. The bark is for treating yellow fever and malaria in folklore medicine. Its leaves are used as emollient and for the treatment of malaria, stomachache and diarrhoea. Also, its leaves and seed cotyledons are used as ointments in treating vaginal and dermatological infections in Western Nigeria. Seed and root extracts of C. albidium are used to arrest bleeding from fresh wounds, and to inhibit microbial growth of known wound contaminants and also enhance wound healing process as they have astringent characteristics.

Source: The Guardian (Abridged)

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